January 2016

New Center for Data Driven Discovery in Biomedicine Transforms Big Data

A first-of-its-kind open-access, data driven discovery platform that empowers new diagnostic tools and personalized, precision therapies for rare childhood diseases and pediatric cancers has been developed at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

The announcement of the Center for Data Driven Discovery in Biomedicine (D3b), by Adam Resnick, PhD, and Philip “Jay” Storm, MD, coincided with Vice President Joe Biden’s Jan. 15 visit to the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania for the launch of the White House’s “Moonshot” initiative, which aims to break down silos and bring all cancer fighters together to end cancer. In his roundtable discussion with CHOP and UPenn researchers, the Vice President discussed challenges including data sharing and collaboration.

Indeed, a giant leap is needed in order to surpass the challenges of research and discovery in the pediatric cancer arena. New genome sequencing technology generates a large amount of data for analysis, often referred to as “big data.” Genomic scientists must dive deeply into this ocean of information to find subtle signals that could become pearls of insights into pediatric disease.

“Unfortunately, whatever limited pediatric cancer data has been generated to date by ‘big data’ technologies has remained siloed, and genomic and healthcare data remain largely unintegrated and unempowered with limited access or the necessary opportunities for collaborative research,” Drs. Resnick and Storm stated.

The D3b is a new disruptive open-access model for biomedical research that will provide robust pediatric data generation and analysis infrastructure. It is based on collaboration, data sharing, and scientific integration, allowing pediatric researchers to transform how they approach big data, specifically by following these new principles:

  • Prioritization of connectivity/collaboration over ownership
  • Empowering data organization, aggregation, and sharing/democratized access
  • Providing social, community-based architectures for participating peers that engage collaborative production and consumption
  • Adopting, advocating for, and projecting open-source/open-access models/culture

This data driven precision medicine initiative, led by CHOP’s Research Institute and Department of Biomedical Health and Informatics, further supports the growth of large-scale interdisciplinary, collaborative infrastructures in CHOP-led multi-institutional research and clinical trial consortia, including the Children’s Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium (CBTTC) and the Pacific Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Consortium.

“Working with CHOP leaders, collaborating hospitals, industry partners, and (most importantly) foundations, patients and their families, the Center initiative will build on CHOP’s investment in a new pediatric biospecimen and integrated diagnostics and data discovery open ecosystem,” Drs. Resnick and Storm stated. “Leveraging scalable cloud computing for ‘big data’ access and rapid analytics, Center programs will work with industry partners to provide secure, integrated data discovery and biospecimen sharing platforms.”

Researchers worldwide will be able to access this information and work together to fully empower and share novel ideas and approaches for new biological targets for precise, less toxic clinical treatments on behalf of children.

To rapidly address this expansive mission on behalf of children, one of the first major initiatives and products of the Center is the creation of an open-access pediatric genomic data cloud. D3b teams and industry partners are already heavily engaged in this effort set to go live within the first year of the Center’s launch.

For the first time clinicians and scientists around the globe will not only have access to pediatric big data, but will be newly empowered for secure, collaborative analysis of big data through scalable cloud computing. The pediatric genomic data cloud environment is set to dramatically transform the way pediatric data is analyzed and will accelerate discoveries of precision medicine approaches on behalf of the center’s core mission of empowering a cure for “every child, every time, everywhere (E3).”

Dr. Resnick is the CBTTC’s neurosurgery director and is assistant professor of Neurosurgery at the Perelman School of Medicine at UPenn. Dr. Storm is a key leader in the CBTTC and chief of CHOP’s Division of Neurosurgery. He also is an associate professor of Neurosurgery at UPenn. Joining Dr. Resnick and Dr, Storm in the Center development efforts is Jena Lilly, the Center’s director of Operations and Strategic Planning.

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